Who doesn't belong?

By Jason SobelAugust 13, 2011, 1:36 am

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – At the exact same time in the middle of Friday afternoon, two men made the turn on opposites sides of the Atlanta Athletic Club.

If you didn’t know their identities, the juxtaposition would have been laughable.

One was well over par, easily on his way to missing the cut, but surrounded by mass amounts of bystanders craning their necks in an effort to witness the carnage. The other was climbing the leaderboard, midway through the best round of the day, and nary an observer was around to take notice.

The player scuffling along hasn’t won a tournament in two years, having been mired in an injury-riddled season that only saw him return to action one week ago. The guy without any fanfare has already won a tournament this season and is fresh off another title contention last week.

It made no sense at all.

Until you realize, of course, that the former was Tiger Woods – or at least a reasonable facsimile of the man who has won 14 major championships – and the latter was PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley, who couldn’t have been happier about the silence.

“I mean, it felt like a Hooters Tour event. It was great,” Bradley said after firing a 6-under 64. “It was a relaxing atmosphere.  It didn't feel like a major, to be honest with you.”

Not that he would know. The 93rd PGA Championship is Bradley’s first career major appearance and yet he’s tied for the 36-hole lead with Jason Dufner going into the weekend.

Go ahead. I’ll wait while you Google those guys and try to figure out if, well, this actually has turned into a Hooters Tour event by mistake.

Still waiting…

OK, trust me now? The truth is, Bradley and Dufner may not be Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in their up-and-comer status, but they’re both very good ball-strikers and players who have put together impressive if not under-the-radar seasons so far this year.

The bigger story, though, is that major championships are no longer the domain of the one-named superstars. No longer can we explain the contenders simple by calling out “Tiger” or “Phil” or “Ernie” or “Vijay.” Instead, it’s “Keegan” and “Jason” and “D.A.” and “Scott.”

Even the guys who are established world-class players, like Jim and Steve – that would be Furyk and Stricker, obviously – aren’t exactly world-beaters. In the olden days – say, five or 10 years ago – experience was a virtue at the majors, but that isn’t the case any longer.

We already know that each of the last six major champions have been first-time winners. Chances are, No. 7 will be crowned on Sunday evening.

Entering the weekend, there is only one major title (Furyk) among the top 13 players on the leaderboard and three (Furyk, Davis Love III, Trevor Immelman) among the top 25.

All of which is just fine with the newbies.

“I'm sure it would be different if Phil was up there or those other guys,” Bradley admitted. “But not in a bad way. These guys are all great players. It's not like they've just kind of stumbled up there. They've been out here a long time. They're great players. They've contended in tournaments. D.A. Points won Pebble this year. They're great players, just like Phil and Tiger are. Probably tomorrow … will be a little more relaxing than if I was playing with Tiger or Phil, but they're great players.”

“There's a lot of good guys out here,” Dufner added. “That's one thing that I've learned – this is my sixth year out here – there's tons and tons of guys that can play golf out here. The networks and the media maybe focus on bigger names for a reason. That's who people want to see. People want to see Tiger Woods; people want to see Phil Mickelson. But there's other guys that can really, really play golf out here and that are really good that you've never heard of.”

While the masses may ridicule the current leaderboard as “Glory’s Last Potshot,” the standings going into the weekend mirror what we’ve seen taking place in this sport for many years. Fields are deeper than ever and the gap between No. 1 and No. 100 is smaller than ever.

Sure, big names like Tiger and Phil may move the needle, but the Q-rating of those in contention right now doesn’t necessarily stand for “quiet” or “quixotic.”

No, these are “quality” players and they’re proving it on the major championship stage once again – even if very few outside the ropes have been paying attention.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.